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      GOP begins validating Virginia primary petitions

      RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Republican Party of Virginia is validating petitions submitted by GOP presidential candidates.

      Party spokesman Garren Shipley says petitions were submitted to the State Board of Elections by Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Perry by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline.

      The validation process began Friday morning, and Shipley says it could continue past midnight. The party said on Twitter that lots of volunteers showed up at GOP headquarters in Richmond to verify signatures.

      Candidates in the March 6 presidential primary must have the signatures of 10,000 registered voters across the state, including at least 400 from each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts.